Creature Feature: Japanese Spider Crab

Ever wonder how big the biggest arthropod in the world is? I have, so I figured I would do a bit of poking around and see what I could find. Turns out, the world’s biggest arthropod is really big indeed! It is a crab called the Japanese Spider Crab (Macrocheira kaempferi).

Creature Feature: Panda Ant

There are some really cute insects out there, and one genus of especially cute insects is the genus¬†Euspinolia, called the Panda Ants. Panda Ants are actually not ants at all, but instead are wasps of the family Mutillidae, commonly called the Velvet Ants. The Panda Ant was first described to science in 1938 and is…

Creature Feature: Solenodon

‘What is a Solenodon?’ is a question that I have been asked by absolutely no one, ever. This is a shame because Solenodons are really cool animals that I think more people should be curious about! So here is some information about them. Solenodons belong to a family (Solenodonidea) of mammals that is sort of…

Creature Feature: Salps

Have you ever heard of a salp? Probably not, but they are organisms that we should all probably be a lot more aware of! Salps are planktonic tunicates. What does that mean? Tunicates are members of the phylum Chordata (the same phylum that you and I are in), and are actually pretty closely related to…

Creature Feature: White-faced Ibis

I was out walking at the Yolo Bypass National Wildlife Refuge, yesterday, and was treated to the sight of a flock of about 30 White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi) flying overhead. This is one of the species that I always look forward to seeing in the summer, here in Central California. They are beautiful and elegant…

Creature Feature: Fig Wasp

Ever eat a fig; a nice, ripe, juicy fig? Then you have also eaten essence of fig wasp! The name Fig Wasp is actually a bit confusing as it can apply to several groups of wasps. Some of those groups are parasitic fig wasps that bore holes in ripening figs and so damage the crop….

Creature Feature: Valley Carpenter Bee

The Valley Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa varipunctata) is the largest species of bee in California, and they are not messing around. They are huge! The females, which are completely black and very dramatic looking, can get up to just over an inch long, and the

Creature Feature: Torpedo Ray

The weapons that submarines fire at one another in the movies we have all seen are called torpedos, but where did the naval weapon get its name? It came from a genus of Rays (relatives of sharks) that have the stunning ability to produce electrical shocks that subdue their prey or discourage their predators, the…

Creature Feature: Band-tailed Pigeon

The Band-tailed Pigeon (Patagioenas faciata) is a native to California, and is the largest extant member of the dove family in North America. It is the closest relative to the now extinct Passenger Pigeon, which was the largest pigeon in North America, period. Band-tailed Pigeons breed across much of western North America, and at high…

Creature Feature: Pitohui

You don’t really hear about venomous birds very often. Venomous snakes and spiders, sure, but not birds. That is because there is no species of bird that makes its own poison. However, that has not stopped a few species from highjacking the poisons made by other creatures and using them for their own defense. The…

Creature Feature: Megamouth Shark

In 1976, a large shark got entangled in the sea anchor of the US Navy ship AFB-14 off the coast of Hawaii. When it was finally brought to the surface and examined, the 4.6 meter long shark was found to be a completely unknown species. Dark brown above and white below, it had a huge…

Creature Feature: Hagfish

Hagfish, which is a group of organisms that make up the class Myxini which has about 70 extant species, are vertebrates that have a skull, but no jaws. They are strange and illuminating and wonderful organisms. They are strange for a list of reasons so long it would take a book to fully explain them…